5 Takeaways from XConf EU 2018

Taking place over three days in three fantastic European cities, XConf EU 2018 was packed with talks, discussions and networking. As ever, hands-on technology was at the top of the agenda with Thoughtworkers and guest speakers taking our community through a wide range of front-line technology topics such as Evolutionary Architecture, FrontEndOps and Microservices. Here are our top five XConf takeaways.

1. Database refactoring is still relevant

Rebecca Parsons’ keynote focused on the definition, principles and techniques of Evolutionary Architecture and one of the main takeaways was the continued relevance of established techniques, such as database refactoring. Much of Rebecca’s talk referenced how new and developing Evolutionary Architecture techniques are made possible by the use of already established procedures. Rebecca highlighted how techniques such as database refactoring, which were introduced in Scott Ambler's and Pramod Sadalage's book 10 years ago, are key to enabling techniques such as data migration, which are critical for making large scale change manageable. Find out more about Rebecca’s Evolutionary Architecture techniques in her keynote speech here.

2. A working definition for FrontendOps

The term FrontendOps has been knocking around for a while. In this talk Thoughtworker Giamir Buoncristiani delivered something that’s been missing around the buzzword ever since it was first coined: a practical definition. Giamir framed FrontendOps as ‘a combination of practices and tools that make delivering optimised web assets more efficient’. This approach encourages dev teams to consider how frontend operations impact end users and supports the use of tools to test speed, accessibility and vulnerabilities of web assets.

3. Local environment testing can ease frustration of shared environments

To counter some of the problems that come with shared environment testing, such as contention over resources and ‘snowflake environments’, Marcos Mercuri and Daniel Lockman put forward the theory of ‘Laptop Devops’. By writing code on their own computers and checking in ‘finished work’, Laptop Devops have the advantage of being able to work without internet, in a fully sandboxed environment and can see if their code actually works before committing to a shared codebase. And by creating these local environments, teams are able to move towards automated environments for pipelines and CI servers. While there are limits to this local testing methodology, Marcos and Daniel explained how it can improve failure rate and increase speed through the pipeline.

4. Start small — lessons learned from a microservices journey

Susanne Kaiser shared her experience of moving to a new way of working using Microservices, from her time as CTO at Just Software in Hamburg. Susanne’s key lessons focused on the importance of starting with a small service that is easy to extract and to implement new practices in small, manageable steps to minimise any reduction in productivity and usability. She recommends handling and implementing cross-cutting concerns early in the process and on every service to avoid feeding monoliths. Using event-driven service interaction for system design is key to enabling change to evolve.

5. When micro frontends work best

One of the critical points of Prasanna Venkatesan’s talk was about when to use micro frontends. Prasanna’s experience showed that micro frontends work best in distributed, self-contained teams that have a need for independent releases: for example, teams working in different countries and timezones. Prasanna also recommended micro frontends as being most suitable for teams that need to collaborate on different frameworks in the frontend. As micro frontend processes have the same complexities and nuances as microservice applications, Prasanna concluded that a prerequisite for micro frontends is that development teams should have previous experience of building microservice applications.

Don't worry if you missed XConf this time

Visit the XConf EU hub for all the highlights from Manchester, Munich and Barcelona including talks, decks and videos.